The initial phase of an MBA program (usually the first year in a two year MBA program) is dedicated towards completion of the core courses. These are designed to build a strong foundation of the basic concepts across the various management subjects. During the latter part of the program, you can choose to specialise in a particular area.
There may be numerous factors that influence your decision regarding the area you wish to specialise in. Depending upon your priority, you may choose a field as per the market demand (job availability), your interest area, preferred job profiles and the compensation package.
The list of the most popular MBA specializations in no particular order is as follows:
Let’s look at each one of them.
The increasing competition has necessitated the need for competitive positioning and excellent marketing skills including the ability to differentiate your product and create a niche for your company in order to sustain long-term profitability for your products or services.
The marketing department plays a crucial role in any organisation as they are responsible for bringing in new businesses, growing the revenue, increasing market share and contributing to the company’s growth and profitability.
Students opting for this specialisation would be able to get insights into various key areas required for every organisation or corporation, some of which include market research and analysis, competitive analysis, consumer behaviour, customer analysis, business ethics, product management, brand management, advertising, digital marketing and e-commerce.
Whether your interest area lies in market research or advertising or sales/distribution of FMCG (Fast moving consumer goods), consumer durables or you’d like to work in IT sales, media, marketing of various services, internet marketing, an MBA in marketing will give you the chance to explore jobs in a wide variety of sectors.
Learn more about Careers in Marketing.
A specialisation in HR helps you understand how to acquire, manage and retain workforce within an organisation in a systematic and organised manner.
This area aims to provide you with the knowledge and ability to manage employees and execute the related work processes within a company covering various aspects including recruitment, selection, training and development, designing jobs, assessments and motivation (promotions/rewarding performance of employees), health and safety, compensation and managing exits from a company.
It also involves managing relationships or any issues arising between the management and the employees. They have to ensure that a cordial relationship exists between them for the smooth functioning and the success of the organisation. They may also be required to take charge of various activities like get-togethers or off-site visits which may be an integral part of the office culture.
Learn more about Careers in Human Resources.
This area seems to be a popular choice and as per Top MBA, it accounts for around 22% of the post-MBA career choice. The irresistible pay packets offered in some of the finance-related jobs may be the responsible for the high influx of MBA grads into the finance stream.
The specialisation helps you get thorough insights into how the financial world functions, the various financial theories and how these can be applied to solve the various business problems.
Your career choice could be in any of these areas: investment banking, asset management firms, hedge funds or private equity, portfolio management, credit risk management, hedge fund management or derivatives. Even the non-financial firms or companies would have their in-house finance department which would provide various job opportunities in finance.
The use of technology has extended to almost every sector and industry which is why there’s a growing demand for professionals with a combination of business and advanced technical expertise.
The specialisation would help you to efficiently manage e-commerce so that you have a thorough understanding of the changes in the competitive business environment; you’d have gained the technical knowledge of emerging technologies in the IT field.
The various areas that may be covered in this specialisation include systems analysis, network security, data analytics, supply chain management, e-business along with managerial decision-making as well as project management.
Read more about Careers in Information Systems and Technology.
Consulting is another favourite choice, perhaps a dream destination for some. The high profile jobs offering fantastic salaries with perks and the opportunity to travel places is primarily responsible for the allure surrounding this profession.
Consultants are hired when an outsiders’ opinion and expertise is needed to provide solutions to specific problems or challenges faced by the organisation or take charge of projects that may be beyond the capacity of the internal staff.
There are various sectors related to the consulting profession including the more popular ones like strategy consulting, IT/technology consulting, operations consulting, boutique consulting to the lesser known areas like HR, investments, public relations/media, education or advertising.
Those opting for this profession may be able to boast about the wide variety of projects they handle for various clients in a variety of industries or geographical locations. However you need to examine the working hours as some of these areas may cause your work-life balance to go for a toss.
Read these articles on Management Consulting careers.
This concentration involves developing the knowledge and strategic skills and business concepts for launching your own start-up and networking with others with an entrepreneurial vision. Entrepreneurs face the challenging task of building a business model with the available limited resources.
The curriculum combines theory with real-world projects so that you are aware of the possible roadblocks and know ways to successfully handle different situations and take the right decisions.
You would be able to use your creativity and analytically assess the market scenario to create a business plan. You would be able to interact with successful entrepreneurs and learn from their successes and failures.
Read these Entrepreneurship articles.
The knowledge of operations management would empower you with the expertise required to efficiently manage the entire system related to manufacturing or services in a manner that the organisation has a competitive edge over others.
The newer perspectives and the analytical skills brought in by the MBA grads can help address the various issues faced towards managing the entire process which includes product design, manufacture, supply chain management, quality control, co-ordination between various teams including various decisions like outsourcing.
You’ve probably played our Supply Chain Management game.
Though the above specialisations are usually the more popular choices, there are a range of options available depending on what your bschool offers.
While the earlier list focussed on functional specialisation, you could also have an industry focus. Here’s a representative list of industry specialisation.
Here’s a more comprehensive list of industries. For now, let’s get an overview of the 3 mentioned above.
This is for those professionals intending to pursue their careers in pharmaceuticals, healthcare, diagnostics or the biotech industry. It covers the various aspects including legal, ethical and regulatory aspects of the pharmaceutical sector as well as product management and marketing research for introducing new products in the market.
This specialisation prepares students for a management career in media or other creative streams. It equips you with the knowledge of various key factors in the area of media management. The topics taught may include the following: music, publishing, theatre, sports, radio among others.
The focus is on preparing students to contribute to the social sector. They learn the required skills for the success of their non-profit organisation including various community change solution, managing fundraising, marketing and fund allocation and leadership skills.
Other specialisations include international business, strategy, supply chain management or construction management.
While choosing an MBA specialisation area, it always works in your favour if your interest is aligned with the career choice. If you choose a field only for the glamour or the salary associated with it, it may be possible that it wouldn’t sustain your long-term interest and you may experience burnout after a few years of work.